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A Dilemma: Babies Born Addicted To Drugs

What can you do if you’re addicted to opiates and you’re expecting a baby? Many women struggle with feelings of guilt and shame. They easily become paralyzed into taking no action. Babies born addicted to opiates ultimately pay a price when their mothers do nothing.

Many moms-to-be are out there successfully hide their addiction to pain pills or other opiates. Sometimes the mother’s significant other simply has no idea of the addiction, and sometimes the partner is also addicted. One or both of them may fear that coming forward to get help for the addiction may result in their being arrested for illegal drug use or even having their children taken away from them.

The Secret: Babies Born Addicted To Drugs

If you keep your addiction a secret and cross your fingers throughout the pregnancy, you aren’t doing anything to protect your unborn child. In some cases an addicted newborn exhibits symptoms immediately, and in other cases it can take up to a week. At a major metropolitan hospital at any given time, about 3 percent of births are babies born addicted to opiates.

The severity of a newborn’s addiction depends upon factors such as the type of drug taken by the mother, the amount of the drug she takes, how her body metabolizes it, how long she has been using the drug, and whether the baby is born prematurely or not.

The problems that these babies suffer are categorized as neonatal abstinence syndrome. They can include excessive diarrhea, poor skin coloring, excessive or high-pitched crying, aversion to light, and increased irritability. They exhibit excessive sucking but with poor ability to nurse, and their movements are quick and sporadic. Many babies whose mothers fail to seek prenatal treatment for their addiction end up in emergency departments suffering from seizures or vomiting.

Treatment for babies born addicted to drugs is available and successful. There is no shame in seeking help. In some cases babies can overcome their addiction in less than a week. Unfortunately, they do require administration of morphine or methadone to help them withdraw from their addiction, but high calorie formulas given in small, frequent meals, as well as cuddling and gentle rocking, help them thrive and grow.

If you’re pregnant and addicted to opiates, know that the best thing you can do for your unborn child is seek treatment at a methadone clinic immediately. Even if there’s a waiting list, you will be given immediate priority. Call today with your questions.

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